Shop owners will have the right to search shoppers’ bags under new rules being considered by the State Government.

Building and Construction Minister Sarah Courtney said the Security and Investigations Agents Amendment Bill 2018 fulfilled the Government’s election commitment to support local businesses by cracking down on shoplifting.

“Under current legislation only security guards have the authority to search bags,” she said.

“However, the Bill enables retail staff to inspect customers’ bags as they exit a store, so long as these inspections are carried out in accordance with the Tasmanian Bag Check Code of Conduct.

“These amendments will not only protect the livelihood of Tasmanian retailers by helping to prevent shoplifting, but will also protect consumers by ensuring that bag checks are carried out in an appropriate and regulated way.

“With Christmas fast approaching, retailers are gearing up for their busiest time of year.

“Unfortunately, this is also a peak period for shoplifting activity.

“Shoplifting is estimated to cost Tasmanian retailers more than $200 million a year, which greatly affects business profitability.

“It is not only Tasmanian businesses that suffer from the effects of retail theft – ultimately the consumer pays with higher retail prices.”

Other Government initiatives to reduce shoplifting include increasing police presence in shopping precincts, and a no-interest loan scheme to small businesses that want to install good quality, high definition digital recording CCTV cameras.